Dear students: How to avoid boring others

Border People by Volcano MotherDear students,

I’ve heard your laments about the boring assignments from school that bored you to tears. The one where the brief are based so much on real life that you aren’t really looking forward to working in the real world. Things like promotional material for corporations. Or something to do with heritage. Or a serious-looking logo. You ask me if this is all there is – if life after school revolves around boring projects with even more boring subject matters.

My answer is yes.

But here’s the thing. Life, when seen from one angle will always be one-sided. The trick is to not do what is expected of you, and to see things with eyes afresh. Easier said than done? Perhaps. This all goes back to letting your hair down to enjoy the process. If only we were all a little more quirky – I’m sure life wouldn’t be so boring!

But also, instead of waiting for boring assignments or projects, why not create your own exciting ones? Why wait for interesting and challenging projects to crop up (a rare thing to come by these days) when you can send the world a message of your own? Why not become a puppet master instead of a puppet? There’s a handful of excuses that’s usually thrown my way – “I don’t have the time. I don’t think people would be interested. Where would I start?” All of these excuses? Most of them stem from laziness and/or fear – a combination that can be both crippling and sad, and especially unwarranted for those who has all the time in the world to make mistakes and learn from it. Maybe you just don’t know it yet.

[quote] Life is too short to color within the lines and to just be what other people expect you to be. [/quote]

So what’s next? You need to make some mistakes and learn to laugh about it. To laugh at yourself. Because no one is going to go around with a feather to tickle you around the corner or dress up as a clown to make you laugh, so you might as well do it yourself. So fall down, laugh, and pick yourself back up again – life is too short to color within the lines and to just be what other people expect you to be. Shout, run, play. Just don’t sit still and take what the world throws at you. Fight back. Fight back with all you’ve got.

It’s time to have some fun.

{ Image credit: Border people by Volcano Mother }

[box icon=”heart”] Every week, I teach about the creative process of illustration at a local college. And when I come home, I realize that I’ve forgotten to point this out, or to remind them about something. Dear Students serves as my own personal compilation of thoughts, and is a series dedicated to students around the world who might find my musings useful. To read the entire series, click here. [/box]

6 Replies to “Dear students: How to avoid boring others”

  1. Gemma Alexander says:

    As a design student at university this post has really been motivational. Mondays mornings will now be a challenge! Thank you!

  2. Joyce Melo says:

    Thank you! I was sure needing that prep talk!

  3. Andrea says:

    Well stated! I couldn’t agree more.

  4. qieron says:

    yea, good post. it’s in your line of work to design and have ideas, so why not design your life and choices? don’t wait for permission to make things, just make them. it’s a very annoying thing to be stuck in the mindset of not thinking you’re good enough yet. just get on with it and it will be great fun.

  5. Mary Ellen Bratu says:

    Oh if only someone had told me this when I was a young design student. If ever there was a field that championed being the designer of your own life and opportunity, the creative industry would be it. I’m a psychologist now and I understand why it matters to have the world mirror back to the artist his/her capabilities and potentials and to hand-deliver opportunities to use them. The problem is that too often the world is distracted by other things and not seeing how vital it is to see you. Don’t join ranks with the distracted. Don’t render yourself invisible in your own eyes, waiting for the world to come around. Amy and quieron are spot on. You have to “just get on with it.”

  6. Jen says:

    As someone working as a designer in an advertising agency I have to say that finding your own creative voice through your own personal work is so important for both your creative and emotional health. Unless you’re blessed with a particularly adventurous or challenging art/creative director, you will end up working on some stinker projects. If it’s important to you as a creative person to keep growing and you don’t work on your own projects or find your own projects your creative output will be defined by the crappy jobs and poor creative direction of your paid employment.

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